Regional Chair Bradley’s Statement regarding recent COVID-19 protests in St. Catharines
While I fully support the right to freedom of expression and peaceful lawful assembly, residents are reminded that we continue to be under provincial stay-at-home orders. As the third wave of this pandemic begins to severely tax our hospital system, it is more important than ever that we stay home when possible and keep one another safe.
The demonstrations that took place over the weekend represent only a very small minority of our total population and seems to be driven by misinformation. The efforts and sacrifices that the vast majority of residents have been making for the last year continue to make a measurable difference and have not been in vain.
Regarding Councillor David Bylsma, I am deeply troubled and disappointed with his active participation in a public demonstration that deliberately ignored the ongoing state of emergency that he himself declared as one of Niagara’s mayors. It is particularly distressing to have a member of Regional Council openly flout the law, thereby setting a poor and unfortunate example for those we represent.
In speaking with a number of councillors, and after hearing from numerous members of the public, they share my frustration and concern.
Under the Emergency Management and Civil Protections Act, all residents of Ontario have been ordered to stay home unless they are conducting a necessary activity. Individuals who chose to participate in the weekend’s rally broke the law.
Councillor Bylsma is free to express his views, but he is not free to break the law, nor is he free to encourage others to do so. It is one thing for an individual to express personal views no matter how outlandish and lacking in reality they might be, but it is completely unacceptable to break the law.
I believe it is important to listen to the science and follow the direction provided by our public health experts. On behalf of Regional Council, I want to thank the overwhelming majority of residents who choose to protect their neighbours by staying home, and wearing a mask.
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